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What is Tuning?. A collaborative, faculty-driven process that identifies what a student should know and be able to do in a chosen discipline at the completion of a degree by: Defining areas of competency Identifying learning outcomes Scaling competencies and outcomes to degree level.

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what is tuning
What is Tuning?

A collaborative, faculty-driven process that identifies what a student should know and be able to do in a chosen discipline at the completion of a degree by:

  • Defining areas of competency
  • Identifying learning outcomes
  • Scaling competencies and outcomes to degree level
tuning s key premises
Tuning’s Key Premises
  • Curricula should not be standardized
  • Faculty control the discipline
  • Academic autonomy and flexibility are essential
tuning in the us 2009 2010
Tuning in the US: 2009-2010

Three pilot states

  • Indiana
  • Minnesota
  • Utah

Six initial disciplines

  • History
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Elementary Education
  • Graphic Design
tuning in the us 2010 2011
Tuning in the US: 2010-2011


  • 3 rounds of Tuning


  • Biology
  • Elementary Education
  • Business
  • Nursing
  • Social Work
regional tuning in the us 2011 2013
Regional Tuning in the US: 2011-2013

Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC)

National Tuning in the US: 2012-2015

American Historical Association (AHA)

tuning educational structures in the us
Tuning Educational Structures in the US

Lumina Foundation initiated Tuning USA to address the foundation’s Goal 2025:

Increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials from 39 percent to 60 percent by the year 2025

tuning s culture of collaboration
Tuning’s Culture of Collaboration
  • Creates space for innovation—emphasizes that education is about learning, not credit hours
  • Student-centered degree—emphasizes what students must accomplish over what should be taught
  • Makes degree-level expectations explicit for students
  • Assures quality for internal (students) & external (transfer institutions) stakeholders
  • Synergizes with other educational priorities
    • Underrepresented populations
    • Student preparation and success
mhec cross state tuning project
MHEC Cross-State Tuning project

Three state project (Illinois, Indiana, Missouri)

Why tune across state lines?

  • Leverage faculty allegiance to the discipline as primary
  • Identify the challenges involved in Tuning outside of a single state context
  • Enable faculty to “compare notes” about policies and practices in their individual states

Why Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri?

  • Utilize pilot state experience (Indiana)
  • Desire for contiguous states (along with Kentucky)
  • Capture large metropolitan areas with movement of human capital across state lines (Chicago and St. Louis)
  • Coordinating board states
why is mhec involved with tuning
Why is MHEC involved with Tuning?
  • Consistent with MHEC mission of “Advancing Education Through Cooperation” and related organizational objectives to:
    • Enhance member states’ ability to maximize higher education opportunity and outcomes
    • Promote improved student access, affordability and completion
    • Encourage quality programs and services
    • Facilitate dialogue among higher education stakeholders to improve higher education policy and practice
mhec cross state tuning project1
MHEC Cross-State Tuning project
  • Why psychology and marketing?
    • Have not been tuned previously in the U.S.
    • Among the most popular majors and degree programs (and a “default” or “fall back” major for many)
    • Programs at the two-year, four-year, and graduate levels (or so we thought)
    • Multiple, varied career/graduate paths
    • Broad range of application of knowledge and developed skills
    • Psychology – among the disciplines most likely to lead to hostile questioning from family members as to what kind of job could possibly be secured with such a major
mhec tuning steps
MHEC Tuning Steps
  • “Pre-launch” meetings with SHEEO agency reps and other key individuals in the three states
  • Involvement of SHEEO agencies, system personnel, and independent associations to identify faculty participants
  • Identification of project evaluator and evaluative framework
  • Opening convening in November 2011
  • Monthly workgroup meetings January to June 2012
  • Engage SHEEO agency personnel as supporters and cheerleaders
  • Presentations (with faculty) during state visits and at conferences
mhec tuning team structure
MHEC Tuning Team Structure

Tuning group composition

  • Fifteen faculty on each disciplinary team (psychology and marketing) – 5 from each state
  • Tenured or senior faculty engaged in the teaching of undergraduates
  • Sector representation:
    • One from a public research university
    • One from a public comprehensive university
    • Two from a public two-year degree granting college
    • One from a private/independent college
progress to date
Progress To Date
  • Workgroups have completed Steps 1 and 2:
      • Draft of general/core competencies and learning outcomes for (each) degree level
      • Draft of discipline specific competencies and learning outcomes for (each) degree level
      • Mapping of career pathways
  • The workgroups are now focused on gathering stakeholder feedback on their drafted competencies and learning outcomes
observations and challenges
Observations and Challenges
  • Enhanced awareness and heightened respect for colleagues at other types of institutions
  • Personal enjoyment and professional growth of faculty
  • Groups need more time to get to know each other before diving into work
  • Role differences in psychology: researchers vs. clinicians (and APS vs. APA)
observations and challenges1
Observations and Challenges
  • What to do with existing curriculum and outcomes statements from professional associations (such as the APA)
  • The associate degree problem
  • The master’s degree problem!
  • General/core vs. specific/disciplinary competencies
  • Appropriate role for SHEEO agencies as well as the project staff (“bottom up” vs. “top down” approach)
what is the tuning texas initiative
What is the Tuning Texas Initiative?
  • Faculty-driven process; faculty work together across sectors
  • Includes input from students, graduates, and employers
    • Focus is first on the discipline, then on courses
programs tuned being tuned
Programs Tuned/Being Tuned
  • Tuning 2010 (finalized):
    • Civil Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
  • Tuning 2011 (final drafts):
    • Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Biology, Chemistry
  • Tuning 2012 (forthcoming):
    • Mathematics, Business, Computer and Information Sciences, Management Information Systems
example tuning of civil engineering
Example:Tuning of Civil Engineering
  • The content of the following slides has been extracted from the May 2011 document, “Tuning of Civil Engineering.”
  • The full document is available online at:

Participants to Date in the Voluntary Course Transfer Agreements Pertaining to Bachelor of Science Degrees in

Civil, Electrical, Industrial, and Mechanical Engineering

For more information, please visit:


Past and Present

  • 2009
    • - History and Physics (associate and bachelor’s)
  • 2012
    • - History and Physics (masters and secondary education)
    • - General Education Mathematics
    • - Elementary Education
      • Common Core State Standards
    • - Degree Qualifications Profile


  • Faculty Driven (bureaucrats out of way)
  • Muddling (collaboration)
    • - Time and space for intellectual exploration
  • Learning is not linear
  • Add depth and coherence
        • To what students learn
        • To how students learn
        • To how they demonstrate learning
        • To how we teach

Outgrowth of Tuning

  • Business Innovation Factory
  • American Historical Association
  • Convergence with other projects
      • Quality Collaboratives (AAC&U)
      • Western Interstate Passport Initiative (WICHE)

Next Steps

  • Integrate into department learning outcomes.
  • Work more closely with regional, specialized accreditation.
  • Change conversation from seat time and credit to learning outcomes and competencies.
  • Introduce Degree Qualifications Profile:
    • - Transparency and coherence in discipline along Essential Learning Outcomes


  • Continuity
    • - Faculty change roles
    • - Part-time faculty
    • - Elementary Education
    • - Time
      • Learning takes practice
      • Learning is not linear

Is Tuning making a difference in the culture of higher education?

  • Nascent
  • Too early to make definitive statements
  • Have Faith!
for more information
For more information…

For more information on Tuning USA, please visit:

For more specific information on the Tuning Texas Initiative, please visit:

Tuning USA Guide: